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July 26, 2022

Producers and processors in the food industry are usually very passionate about their products. They love to grow them or figure out how to create them in their processing facility. A lot of resources and time are invested in the product.


Unfortunately, this can lead to frustration and missing out on opportunities. You have a much better chance of success if you design and develop products for consumers and customers. Avoid the temptation to just do what you want to do.

Producers and processors invest too much developing and growing products before they really think about who will buy them or why a retailer would want them in the store. Yes, they might be great products but if there is no demand or space in the store, chances are they will fail.


Start with consumers


Consumers will ultimately decide if your product is successful or not. They vote with a tap at the check-out every week. The products they pick up and buy are the ones retailers want more of and generate the sales and margin they crave.


Consumers are changing faster than ever. Do not assume they will buy your product, just because you think it is great. Consider how the pandemic has impacted their eating, entertaining and meal planning.


Develop a profile of the consumer who will buy the product. This profile can include attributes such as demographics and psychographics. This will help you determine many of the features of your product. For example, if your target market is large families you will need a larger package and be able to deliver more value.


It is also a real benefit if you can understand why consumers will buy your product. This will help you promote the benefits that appeal to them. People buy for different reasons. Perhaps your product will be used as an ingredient and they will only need it once per month. Resealable packaging would be a benefit if it keeps the product fresh for them to use each time.


Once you understand who they are and why they buy, you can determine where you have the best chance of selling in retail. Different consumers shop in different stores. You might have a premium product, that appeals to people eating a plant-based diet. It is more likely you will find them at certain stores.


Consider the category where your product will be sold


No product will be sold in isolation. Consumers and customers will compare it to other products in the category. It is important to understand the different options in the category and how your product will deliver unique benefits.  Otherwise, you have to question why it would be offered in the store.


Overall value is always a consideration. This is a combination of quality and price. There are other attributes but these are the two big ones. There is only one ‘cheapest’ and one that is the best. The rest fit in the middle.


Retailers’ own brands, referred to as private label or control label can also influence your options in the category. Retailers will not usually take their own product off the shelf. You need to figure out how to be different – or perhaps offer to produce the private label.


Determine how the product will benefit your customer


Retailers will buy your products if they need them and they see a benefit to putting them in their stores. They will not buy them just because they are great products.


Retailers are looking for products that will grow the category sales and deliver the margin they need. If your product will bring new consumers to the category they will be interested. One more producer growing green cabbage might not be what they need. A producer who can get local green cabbage to the market earlier because of a microclimate or growing in tunnels would be of more interest to your customer. They can offer local product with lower freight and no currency exchange.


How and where your product will be merchandised are also important factors to consider when looking at your customers. If your product requires packaging, you should experiment with the most effective layout to communicate your message.


Now it is time to focus on the cart


Once you have considered where the opportunities are with consumers, the category and customers, you should focus on the product. You know what you can do and what you like to do. Ultimately this should allow you to focus on what you want to do as opposed to trying to force a product into a market.


As you plan to develop a new product or introduce new production to your operation, talk to your customers. They should be willing to share their perspective and give you an idea how big the opportunity could be.


Combine the needs of the market with your expertise and passion. This will provide you with the best chance of success.

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Submitted by Peter Chapman on 26 July 2022